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Today's Top Science Headline: "The Microbial Eve" --Paleo-Biologists Track Our Origins Back to Single-Celled Organisms

 

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We now know that all extant living creatures derive from a single common ancestor, called LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor. It's hard to think of a more unifying view of life. All living creatures are linked to a single-celled creature, the root to the complex-branching tree of life. If we could play the movie of life backwards, we would find this little fellow at the starting point, the sole actor in what would become a very dramatic story, lasting some 4 billion years.

 

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There were, very possibly, other life forms before LUCA, reports NPR. We don't know exactly who LUCA was, or when it thrived. But paleo-biologists — scientists that investigate creatures that lived a long time ago — have succeeded brilliantly in mapping life's evolution from bottom-up in extraordinary detail, especially considering the difficulties in finding fossil evidence of creatures living billions of years ago.

Instead of looking for bones or imprints in rocks, to find LUCA they look at DNA. They are able to trace LUCA to a simple prokaryotic creature (a single-celled bacterium with unprotected genetic material) that lived some three billion years ago. It must have been a very tough organism, able to survive in very extreme environments.

Evolutionary biologist William Martin, from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany, tried to track down LUCA in the genes of bacteria and archaea. This is not an easy task, as organisms often swap genes, making it hard to know what came from a very ancient lineage and what was picked up more recently.

The tree of life is pretty complicated. However, if you look at the picture, you will learn two important things: first, that humans and other animals are the absolute minority, a twig at the bottom right as part of the eukaryotes, organisms with cells that have DNA as genetic material protected by a membrane. (Eukaryotes include animals, planets, fungi, and protozoans.) Second, that the vast majority of living creatures are bacteria.

Next to the eukaryotes you will find the archaea, also single-celled organisms that are able to survive in extreme environments, such as near hot underwater thermal vents or oxygen-free wetlands. All evidence indicates that LUCA was a primitive form of archaea.

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"Are You a Boltzmann Brain?" New Study Links Human Consciousness to a Law That Governs the Universe" (WATCH Video)

 

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Our species has long agonized over the concept of human consciousness. What exactly causes it, and why did we evolve to experience consciousness? Now, a new study has uncovered a clue in the hunt for answers, and it reveals that the human brain might have more in common with the universe than we could have imagined.

Continue reading ""Are You a Boltzmann Brain?" New Study Links Human Consciousness to a Law That Governs the Universe" (WATCH Video)" »


Milky Way's First Star Unveiled --"Born from First Supernovae of Massive Stars After the Big Bang"

 

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"Theory predicts that these stars could form just after, and using material from, the first supernovae, whose progenitors were the first massive stars in the Galaxy, around 300 million years after the Big Bang" says Jonay González Hernández, a Ramon y Cajal researcher at the IAC and one of the authors of the article. "In spite of its age, and of its distance away from us, we can still observe it" he adds.

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From the Farside --"Emergence of Alien Superintelligence" (WATCH Video)

 

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Don't miss this! This short film, narrated by professor Andrea Diem-Lane, author of Darwin's DNA, describes varying viewpoints on the emergence of superintelligence and how it relates to earlier fears of invasion from outer space aliens. From War of the Worlds to Forbidden Planet this short film zeros in on the great worry of the 21st Century --future superintellgent AI and its expressions in the movie Transcendence to futurist Ray Kurzweil. Nick Bostrom Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking on our the fear of a evolving superintelligent species.Perhaps the alien invasion is already here buried in our human DNA.

 

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Today's Top Space Headline --"China's Arthur C. Clarke" (WATCH Video)

 

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“In the distant future, if human civilization survives and spreads through the cosmos, humanity must create technological marvels at ultra-grand scales." In Liu Cixin’s novels, a black hole with the mass of twelve billion suns is the sort of thing that Chinese engineers might build.

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From the Farside --"Alien Messages the Human Species May Not Want to Receive" (WATCH Video)

 
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Futurist John Michael Godier explores possible  alternative SETI messages that may not just say hello. Is there a fundamental flaw in why we have not received a signal from an advanced alien civilization? How do we decode an alien message --alien is alien so it might be impossible. What if they communicate chemically? Will they use the language of math and science signaling at 1420 megahertz. What if we are too primitive to comprehend a message or the technology of its signal. What if it's a message from an extinct civilization?

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Today's "Planet Earth Report" --50 Years Ago, a US Military Jet Crashed in Greenland – With 4 H-Bombs On Board (WATCH Video)

 

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Fifty years ago, on Jan. 21, 1968, the Cold War grew significantly colder. It was on this day that an American B-52G Stratofortress bomber, carrying four nuclear bombs, crashed onto the sea ice of Wolstenholme Fjord in the northwest corner of Greenland, one of the coldest places on Earth. Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Danes were not pleased.

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"The Water Paradox!" --Water-Based Life May Have Originated Without Water

 

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Scientist are probing the possibility that water-based life may have originated without water. Life on early Earth seems to have begun with a paradox: while life needs water as a solvent, the essential chemical backbones of early life-forming molecules fall apart in water. Our universal solvent, it turns out, can be extremely corrosive. Some have pointed to this paradox as a sign that life, or the precursor of life, originated elsewhere and was delivered here via comets or meteorites. Others have looked for solvents that could have the necessary qualities of water without that bond-breaking corrosiveness.

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EcoAlert --China Urges World's Scientists to Build a Digital Silk Road to Protect Fragile Ecosystems of Asia, Europe and Africa

 

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Chinese scientist Guo Huadong on Tuesday published an article on the website of the academic journal, Nature, calling on global scientists to build a digital Silk Road using big data. The ancient Silk Road trade routes connecting Asia, Europe and Africa lay behind the development of many great civilizations. Today, solar panels and smartphones have replaced silk, and trains and aeroplanes have superseded camels. But the Silk Road spirit of peace, mutual benefit and learning has been revived in an ambitious plan to bridge East and West, launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

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Today's Top Science Headline --"Brain Waves Control Our Memory"

 

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“Working memory is the sketchpad of consciousness, and it is under our control. We choose what to think about,” MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller. “You choose when to clear out working memory and choose when to forget about things. You can hold things in mind and wait to make a decision until you have more information.”

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